The Insights Blog

Agency Execs: please stand up (when presenting)

Agency Execs: please stand up (when presenting)


A curious behavior has become relatively commonplace in many of the agency pitches we observe: agency execs often sitting as they present during pitches. 

It is undoubtedly well intended! These folks probably are hoping for a conversation between their agency and the prospective client and sitting across a table seems like the natural way to have a deep discussion. Heck, when we go to dinner with friends or have a large corporate meeting we are often sitting across from our friends, family or work associates.

It’s a nice idea in a pitch. And it doesn’t work.

Sitting as you present during a pitch is not as effective as standing because:
  1. It drains, rather than adds to, the energy from a room. The presenter can’t express as much enthusiasm.

  2. Sitting makes it harder for the presenter to connect. They are more limited in their mannerisms. They can’t take a meaningful step forward to address a question or engage in a discussion.

  3. It makes it harder for the prospective client to follow the presentation, especially if there are slides and a screen to look at. The sitting presenter may not be right by the screen and can’t make as meaningful gestures towards key content.

  4. Sitting balances the playing field. The sitter is giving up a position of authority.

Of course, there are times when you need to sit. In very small meetings it is odd to stand up.

So, take a stand (literally) for your agency! Proudly take the floor and showcase your conviction in the topic and your agency’s recommendations. You’ll connect better and come across as more energetic and enthusiastic.

Steve Boehler, founder, and partner at Mercer Island Group has led consulting teams on behalf of clients as diverse as Ulta Beauty, Microsoft, UScellular, Nintendo, Kaiser Permanente, Holland America Line, Stop & Shop, Qualcomm, Brooks Running, and numerous others. He founded MIG after serving as a division president in a Fortune 100 when he was only 32. Earlier in his career, Steve Boehler cut his teeth with a decade in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble, leading brands like Tide, Pringles, and Jif.